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Important Hindu Religious
Om or Aum
Made of three Sanskrit letters:
Aa, Au, and Ma
When combined, they make the
sound of AUM or Om—the most
important symbol in Hinduism.
This symbol actually represents
Brahman or the absolute.
Second in importance only to the OM
It is not a letter or syllable but a
pictorial picture character in the shape
of a cross which, when branches are
bent at right angles and facing in a
clockwise direction,represents
the eternal nature of the
Purnakumbha (Earthen Pot)
 Full
of water and with fresh mango
leaves and a coconut atop it—
generally placed as the chief deity
or by the side of the deity
 The pot symbolizes mother earth—
the water-giver of life—the leaves
life, and the coconut divine
The Lotus
The holiest of flowers for the Hindu
 The lotus is representative of the
true soul of an individual—also a
symbol of creation.
I. Generalizations of Indian Religion
A. It is complex and indefinable—no creeds
1. Indian religion is given to a
functional definition of religion and
emphasizes evolutionary change
2. Hinduism can be considered
more of a league of religions, than
a single religion
3. It seems not to want any boundary
around it.
B. It is a highly inclusive religious system.
1. May believe anything or nothing
2. Room for all types of souls
C. It is a system of rationalism and esoteric
1. One must go to the wisdom of the
ages, a metaphysical view of history.
2. Ultimately all is question of knowledge.
3. Sin is delusion, maya is sin or
D. By Tradition it is ethnic-centered
1. To be Indian is to be Hindu
2. It is a nationalistic religion
E. Spirit of Indian Philosophy
1. Chief mark is its concentration upon
the spiritual.
2. Intimate relationship of philosophy
and life, practical applications of
philosophy to life: Truth must be lived.
3. Has introspective attitude and
introspective approach to reality.
4. Most philosophies idealistic
5. Requires extensive use of reason, but
intuition is accepted as the only method
through which ultimate truth can be
6. Stresses Sruti, or acceptance of
II. Strands of Indian Religion
A.Understanding the development of literature
helps to understand the historical
1. Each piece of writing over-shadows
another piece.
2. Each culture is produced by its religious
3. The oldest document represents mixture
of thought of the invading Aryans.
B. Word darsana, usually translated
“philosophy”, in Sanskrit means “seeing”
or “experiencing”—all systems follow in
two main divisions:
1. astika—the orthodox
2. nastika—Buddhism and Jainism,
which reject the authority of the
C. Divisions of Hindu thought through its
1. Vedic period—2500-600 BCE
2. Epic period—600 BCE-200 CE, also
the beginning of the rival schools;
development of bhakti, Gita,
beginning of 6 darsanas
3. Sutra period—200 CE—systematic
treatises of the various schools
were written
4. Scholastic period--?-1700 CE,
commentators on the Sutras
a Rishi
D. Historical Development of Indian Thought
1. Brahmanism-Vedic period—2500-500
a. Pre-Aryan—2500-1500 BCE
(1) Earliest religious thought
is deduced from
archaeological evidence
through seals, figurines and
other such artifacts.
(2) Pre-Aryan or Dravidian culture is
known through ruins of two cities,
Harappa and Mohenjodaro, which
seemed preoccupied with fertility
symbols (figurines of pregnant females,
stone phallic symbols) which seem to
suggest worship of the Mother
Goddess and the worship of a divinity
similar to Shiva; usually associated with
a bull often represented as a phallic
symbol. Some seals point to religious
motifs found in Mesopotamia, such as
the Gilgamesh legend.
b. Aryanism—1500-500 BCE
Harrappan Artifacts
Male Head
Mohenjodaro Great
Mohenjodaro Street
The Indo-Aryans
I. Early History
A. Around 2000 BCE a series of
migrations began from the area north
of the Black Sea
B. The settlers eventually covering
most of Europe, the Northern part of
the Near East and the Indian sub –
C. The study of this migration
beginning with a study of the IndoAryan languages—from the ancient
Sanskrit to languages of modern
D. Early Indo-European mythology
1. According to some scholars these early
people would reject the more popular sky-god
in favor of a tripartite division of divine
power—which would in turn reflect the social
structures of the people
a. A magical-legal function
b. A warrior function
c. The various functions surrounding
2. This tripartite division would lead to
an emphasis of three main deities
a. There seems to be a tendency
to divide the function between two
(1) One deity would be
threatening and indifferent to
the fate of humanity
(2) One deity would be
concerned with the proper
ordering of human life
and society
b. The warrior deity is one of ambiguity
(1) As a warrior he must be great in
battle in order to protect society and
the cosmos
(2) But as a result of his victory his
rage may be turned on creation itself
and must be placated by sacrifice and
3. The theme is found in the mythologies
of the Indo-Aryans with some variations
Vedic Gods and
Earliest evidence for IndoAryan mythology comes
from the Rig-Veda, written
at the end of the 2nd
century BCE by the Aryans
who “invaded” northern
I. He is lord of the
heavens; the most
popular and
powerful of the
Vedic deities
II. He rides a
white elephant
called Airavata and
has the power to
control lightening
IV. He had many
battles with demons;
the most famous was
the slaying of
A. He killed the
demon of the
dark skies (clouds)
with his weapon
B. He released
the cows (waters)
that were held in
captivity by the
V. Prone to drinking soma which caused
him to lose control of himself
VI. He is more like a king of the earth
than the heavens
VII. In the Kena Upanishad we read that
he was the only god to have gone nearest
to Brahman and was to know Him as
Brahman—this gave him the right to
become the rulers of heavens
VIII. He is usually
shown with four
arms and riding on
a white elephant
IX. He is
sometimes shown
with his wife,
X. With the
emergence of
devotional Saivism
and Bhagavatism
his importance
XI. Some scholars believe that he
prefigures Krishna
I. There are signs
that he is an
omnipotent, and
compassionate God
II. He is also a
precursor of Brahman
III. He is the ruler of
the world order (rita)
Rama & Varuna
IV. He is the supreme God who
controls justice
V. He has innumerable spies (rays of
light)—thus he knows what goes on
all over the world
VI. He lost much of his importance
as Indra became more prominent—
he was relegated to the position of a
dikpala or ruler of a quarter (western
hemisphere) and lord of the oceans
and waters
VII. He is usually depicted as the
rider of a chariot drawn by seven
swans and has four hands and an
umbrella over his head—suggesting
his lordship over aquatic life
I. The chosen Priest, God,
minister of sacrifice, the
hortar, who lavishes wealth
and dispels the darkness
II. He is appointed by Manu
as the priest
III. Often invoked along
with Indra, with whom he
shares the passion for soma
IV. Agni was the earliest Angiras, a
V. Aryans were aware of his
destructive ability, as he sets the
forests aflame
VI. In images, he is depicted with
two heads, long flowing hair, a pot
belly, six eyes, seven hands, four
horns, and three legs.
VII. His seven hands represent the
seven flames and the three legs
represent the three worlds which he
reigns; the pot belly denotes his love
for rich oily food
VIII. His vehicle is the Ram
IX. As the fire god, Agni he consumes
the sacrifice and, as priest, presents it
to the gods above
X. He is also the element that binds
together the three worlds, in heaven
he is born over again as the sun, in the
atmosphere he is kindled by the
waters, on earth he is kindled by the
hands of humanity
Rudra and Rudras
I. Rudra is a militant god of storms
and lightening and a “provider of
II. He is a fierce looking god, well
built and golden in color, with
braided hair of “firm limbs,
multiform, strong, tawny who adorns
himself with bright gold decorations”
III. He wields the thunder bolt, bow
and arrow, and sends down streaks
of lightening shaking the worlds,
making people nervous with fear
IV. Sometimes the hymns refer to
not just one Rudra but a group of
Rudras eleven in number—some
suggest this is a symbolic reference
to the ten vital breaths
I. A god of the heavens, like Varuna
II. Together they uphold the law,
causes the cows to stream, the
plants to flourish, and send down the
III. Both are adityas and often
invoked together
IV. Mitra stirs men to action and
sustains both earth and heaven
V. Mitra and Varuna are guardians of
the world, who sit in a gold hued
chariot from day break and behold
the infinity
I. In the Rig Veda,
he is a minor god,
one of the adityas
II. Like the Vishnu of
later days, he is a
lover and protector of
devotees in whose
loved mansion all god
loving creatures live
III. He is a
god of three
strides who
upholds the
existence, the
earth, the
heaven, and
all living
I. Usha is dawn, the daughter of the
sky, lady of the light, who rouses all
II. She is borned on a hundred
chariots, she yokes her steed before
the arrival of the sun and is never
III. She brings not only light, but
hope, happiness, riches, and all the
good things
IV. She is a goddess of light and
beauty, whom the Rishis of old time
invoked for their protection and help
I. Soma is the god of inspiration, the
intoxicant who stirs the minds, lures
the gods and brings them to the
place of worship
II. One of the most popular of the
Rigvedic hymns, the entire 9th
Mandala is dedicated to him
III. Also known as the Lord of the
speech (Vachspati), because of his
intoxicating influence on the
movement of speech
I. Twin deities who origins is
shrouded in myth
II. They have healing and curative
III. They are said to descent to
earth three times a day to help
humankind with their restorative and
curative powers
I. They are powerful and destructive
storm gods, who lash the world from
end to end, make the mountains
rock, rend the forest-kings apart,
make the earth tremble and drench
the earth with heavy rains
II. Considered to be the progeny of
I. He is the rhythmic pattern of the
universe—the orderly way in which
the world regulates itself
II. He determines the usual paths by
which the heavenly objects, the sun,
the moon, the stars, the nine
planets, conduct themselv
I. Yama is the god of justice and
ruler of the dead and departed who
go the region of hell
II. Two fierce dogs with four eyes
and wide nostrils, look on men and
guard the pathway the leads the
world of Yama
III. He is the master of
knowledge and taught
young Nachiketa the secrets
of Brahman, fire sacrifice,
and immortality
IV. His image is shown as
riding a he-buffalo, carrying
a mace as his weapon and
holding a noose, using the
noose to drag the deceased
beings to the hells
Varuna, Vishnu, and Mitre plus a
number of minor deities are referred
to as Adityas—children of the
boundless goddess Aditi (ancient
The Danavas were the children of Danu
(restrainer) and were foes of the Adityas
a. The most important one being
the great dragon Vritra
b. He would eventually be
destroyed by Inda with his
thunderbolt—thereby freeing the
cosmic waters and making possible the
The mythologies will be in a constant flux
over the centuries and some minor deities
in the Rig-Veda will become important in
later writings
1 Prajapati would come to replace
Varuna as arbiter of the cosmic order
a. By “heating” himself, Prajapati
would bring into being the
hierarchy of the universe through
his sweat or semen
b. He would establish himself as
the “self-sacrifice” that would be
perpetuated through the priestly
I. The Vedas show a ritualistic cult
involving the sacrificial use of fire
and an exhilarating drink called
soma, as well as the rudiments of a
social order
II. These gods are found to be
somewhat parallel to other IndoAryan cultures, such as Iran and
3. The religion developed by the
Aryans are found in the Vedas
III. Vedas are referred to as
the Sruti—”that which heard
or “that of divine origin”
A. Represents established
knowledge, its final authority is
accepted by all Hindus
as eternal and revealed
B. The earliest portion
of the Vedas consists of
four metrical hymns,
known as the Samhitas:
1. Rig-Veda
1028 (arranged in 10 mandalas or circles)
hymns to the gods, shows optimism and enjoyment
of the world, stresses humility to the gods
Written between 1500-900 BCE
Dominated by hymns praising the Aryan gods for
giving them victorious and wealth plundered from
the local Dasas through warfare
Hymns refer to the use of horses and chariots with
spikes, spears, bows, arrows, and iron weapons
Rig-Veda II;20:6-8 refers to victory over the
Dasa peoples
He, self-reliant, mighty and triumphant,,
brought low the dear head of the wicked Dasas.
Inda, the Vritra-slayer, fort-destroyer,
scattered the Dasa hosts who dwelt in darkness.
For men hath he created earth and waters,
and ever helped the prayer of him who worships.
To him in might the Gods have ever yielded,
to Indra in the tumult of battle.
When in his arms they laid the bolt,,
he slaughtered the Dasyus
and cast down their forts of iron
Rig-Veda I;1:1-5
I laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God,
minister of sacrifice
Worthy is Agni to be praised by living as
by ancient seers
Through Agni man obtaineth wealth, yes,
plenty waxing day by day
Agni, the perfect sacrifice, which though
encompassest about
May Agni, sapient-minded Priest, truthful,
most gloriously great;
The first indication of the cast system is contained
in a hymn to Purusha—the embodied human
spirit, who is ¼ creature and ¾ eternal life in
Rig-Veda 10:90
A thousand heads hath Purusa, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet
On every side pervading earth he fills a space ten fingers wide
This Purusa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be . . . . . . . . . . .
When they divided Purusa how many portions did they make?
What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs
and feet?
The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made.
His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was
The Moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the Sun had
birth; Indra and Agni from his mouth were born, and Vayu
from his breath
Rig-Veda 2:12
1. The god who had insight the
moment he was born, the first who
protected the gods with his power
of thought, before whose breath the
two world-halves tremble as the
greatness of his manly powers.—he,
my people, is Inda
2. He who made fast the tottering
earth, who made still the quaking
mountains,who measured out and
extended the expanse of the air,
who propped up the sky—he, my
people, is Indra
Rig-Veda 5:85
1. For the emperor I will sing a splendid,
deep prayer, one that will be dear to
the famous Varuna who struck apart
the earth and spread it beneath the
sun as the priest who performs the
slaughter spreads out the victim’s skin
2. He stretched out the middle realm of
space in the trees; he laid victory in
swift horses and milk in the dawn
cows, intelligence in hearts and fire in
the waters. Varuna placed the sun in
the sky and Soma on the mountain
Creation Hymns
RV 10:129—There was neither non-existence nor existence then;
there was neither in the realm of space nor the sky which is
beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was
there water, bottomlessly deep?
There was neither dead nor immortality then. There was no
distinguishing sign of night or day. That one breathed,
windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was
nothing beyond
RV 10:121— In the beginning the Golden Embryo arose. Once he
was born, he was the one lord of creation. He held in place
the earth and the sky. Who is the god whom we should
worship with the oblation?
He who gives life, who gives strength, whose command all the gods,
his own, obey; his shadow is immortality—and death. Who is
the god who we should worship with the oblation?
The relationship between the various
deities of Rig-Veda are not clear
(a) Each may be represented as
the supreme god
(b) Indra stands out as the preeminent god of Rig-Veda,
which recounts his deeds
(c) In terms of this tradition,
creation proceeded when Indra,
the champion of the celestial
gods, slew a demon,
Vrita, who enclosed the waters
and the sun requisite for human
(d) When Indra split open the
belly of this demon the essentials of creation—
moisture, heat, light—were released and cosmic
order—rita—was established under administration
of the god Varuna
7. Gods and men had specific functions
(vrata) to perform in accordance
with this cosmic order
8. After death individuals who had
fulfilled their obligations under cosmic
order went to a heavenly realm
presided over by Yama, the
9. Two mythological dogs guarded the
righteous on the path to the region, but
the sinful were fettered out, and
unprotected, fell prey to various
10. Cultic practices developed an
elaborate ritual based on a fire sacrifice,
personified as the god Agni, the
crackling of the sacrificial fire was
viewed as the voice of Agni
11. The soma juice, personified by the
god Soma, was used
12. Importance was given to the
chanting of hymns and invocations by
the human priesthood
13. Later the sacrifice was viewed
cosmologically and the correct
performance of the sacrifice possessed
a magical potency which could coerce
even the gods
(a) This magical power in the
prayers developed into spells
called brahman
(b) He who recited them was
“prayer-er” or brahman, or one
related to prayer (brahmana)
(c) This principle would be used in
the Upanishads as the ultimate
2. Yajur Veda
(10th century BCE)
Sacred liturgy written in prose, sacrificial formulas.
Caste system was in place and role of priests and
their ceremonies gained influence and justified
the Aryan ways to native workers
Yajur Veda has 2 collections called White and
Black—the latter being more obscure in its
By instituting more elaborate sacrifices for their
wealthy patrons, the priests could grow both in
numbers and wealth.
The horse sacrifice was one of the most famous—
not done very often—the parts of the horse
symbolized different aspects of the universe
The soma sacrifice was the most important and
could last up to 12 years.
The priests placed themselves at the top of the
caste system. After the Atharva Veda was
accepted, each sacrifice required at least 4
priests, one on each side of the fire using the Rig,
Sama, Yajur and Atharva Vedas, plus their
Yajur Veda 1.2.7
a. I buy Soma from thee, strong, rich in sap, full of force,
overcoming the foe, the pure with the pure I buy, the bright
with the bright, the immortal with the immortal, to match
they cow.
b. With be the gold
c. Thou art the bodily form of penance, Prajati’s kind, I buy
(Soma) with the last offspring of thee that bast a
thousandfold prosperity.
d. With us be union with thee; with me let thy weal wealth
e. With us be light, darkness be on the Soma-seller
f. Come as a friend to us, creating firm friendships.
g. Enter the right thigh of Indra, glad the glad, tender the
h. O Svana, Bhraja, Anghari, Bambhari, Hasta, Suhasta,
and Krcanu, here are your wages for Soma; guard them, let
them not fail you.
3. Sama Vedas
Collections of chants sung by priests at sacrifice.
These are considered to be the origin of Indian
music The Sama Vedas helped to train the
musicians and functioned as a hymnal for the
religious rites
The animal sacrifices did not use the Sama chants.
Sama Veda, Book III, Chapter 1, Decade 1
1. Let Soma juices make thee glad! Display thy bounty,
Thunderer: Drive off the enemies of prayer!
2. Drink our libation, Lord of hymns! With streams of
meath thou art bedweded: Ye, Indra, glory is thy gift.
3. Indra hath ever thought of you and tended you with
care. The God, Heroic Indra, is not checked.
4. Let the drops pass within thee as the rivers flow into the
sea O Indra, naught excelleth thee!
5. Indra, the singers with high praise, Indra reciters with
their lauds, Indra the choirs have glorified
6. May Indra give, to aid us wealth handy that rules the
skilful ones! Yea, may the Strong give potent wealth.
7. Verily, Indra, conquering all, drives even mighty fear
away, For firm is he and swift to act.
8. These songs with every draught we pour come, lover of
the song, to thee As milch-kine hasten to their calves.
9. Indra and Wishan will we call for friendship and
prosperity, And for the wining of the spoil.
10. O Indra, Vrita-slayer, naught is better, mighter than
thou Verily there is none like thee!
4. Atharva Veda
Magical formulas, spells, incantations, the most
recent of the works
The bheshajani spells are for healing and cures
using herbs to treat fever, leprosy, jaundice, and
other diseases.
The abhichara spells were negative or bewitching
spells and were used to cause diseases or harm
to enemies
Marriage ceremonies would be included (Atharva
Veda 14:2-71
I am he, you are she.
I am song; you are verse.
I am heaven; you are earth
Let us two dwell together here;
let us generate children
Artha Veda 1.23
Leprosy cured by a dark plant
1. Born by night art thou, O plant, dark, black,
sable. Do thou, that art rich in colour, stain this
leprosy, and the gray spots!
2. The leprosy and the gray spots drive away
from here—may thy native colour settle upon
thee—the white spots cause to fly away!
3. Sable is thy hiding place, sable thy dwellingplace, sable art thou, O plant: drive away from
here the speckled spots.
4. The leprosy which has originated in the bones,
and that which has originated in the body and
upon the skin, the white mark begotten of
corruption, I have destroyed with my charm.
Vedic Sacrifices
Characteristics of Vedic Ritual
I. There was no fixed place of
worship—no temples or permanent
structures were devoted to Vedic
II. There is no evidence for icons or
images representing gods or their
III. Central focus of Vedic ritual is
IV. Principle and central act of
almost all rituals is the offering of
edible or drinkable substances into
the fire
V. The rituals range from the
simplest (Agnihorta or “Fire offering’
to the twice daily offerings of milk
and other products into the fire
Participants of the Ritual
I. The Ahitagni who actually causes
the ritual to be performed—known as
the yajamana or sacrificer
II. He relies on a collection of priests
who fall into four main groups
A. The priests of the Rig Veda,
the Sama Veda, and the Yajur
Veda are responsible for the three
types of sacral utterance that
together form the verbal sector of
Vedic ritual
B. The chief priest represent the
Rig Vedas is called the Hortar, in
the Sama the Udgatar, that of the
Yajur is the Adhvaryu
C. The representatives of the
Atharva Veda is the Brahman who
oversees the whole operation
III. A third set of presentatives is
invisible (except for Soma and Agni)
and are a selection of the gods
Types of Sacrifices
I. Haviryajnas—determined by the
rhythm of the year and movements
of the sun and moon
II. Agnihorta—twice daily offering of
the fire
III. Dars’apaurNamasa—the new
and full moon sacrifice involves
offering every two weeks
IV. Caturmasyani—Four monthly or
seasonal sacrifices
V. AgrayaNa—first fruits offered at
VI. Pas’ubandha—animal sacrifice
VII. As’vamedha—horse sacrifice
where a horse is slaughtered
(4) Commentaries on
the Vedas include:
(a) Brahmamanas
(Between 900 & 700 BCE)
Written in prose as sacerdotal commentaries on the four
Vedas to guide the practices of the sacrifices and give
explanations for the often mythical and fanciful
They serve as a transition from the Vedas to the Aranyakas
and the more mystical Upanishads
They also contain stories meant to explain or rationalize their
religious practices
The power of the WORD is increasing as the sacrifices were
glorified and given power over the Vedic gods
Japa, or the practice of chanting a mantram like
Aum (OM) practiced ascetically with the sacrifices
were believed to produce all one’s desires
Prajapti becomes more powerful and is said to have
given birth to the gods and the demons—he
would be the first to sacrifice and was also
considered to be the sacrifice itself
He practiced tapas to create by the heat of his own
Prajapati would later be replaced by Brahman
A belief in repeated lives through reincarnation is
indicated in several passages
(b) Aranyakas
(600 BCE)
Forest texts, sages of the forest, collections of
hidden truths elucidated
They were tacked on to the end of the Brahmanas;
only 3 are extant and share the names of the
Brahmanas they follow
Texts were transitions between the Brahmanas and
the Upanishads—they discuss rites and magic
contents but also early speculations which would
later flower in the Upanishads
Emphasis is placed on knowledge; human
immortality identified with the soul (atman)
(c) Upanishads
Which were reactions against sacrificial system,
very philosophical, stresses ultimate cosmic
principle as Brahman
The term literally means “those who sit near”—
implies a seeker listening closely to the secret
doctrines of a spiritual teacher.
There are over 200, but only 15 are mentioned by
the philosopher Shankara (788-820) CE. They
are considered Vedic—the rest were written later
and are related to the Puranic worship of Shiva,
Shakti, and Vishnu
The oldest and longest are the Brihad-Aranyaka and
the Chandogya (7th century BCE)
The Brihad-Aranyaka has 3 Aranyaka chapters
followed by six Upanishad chapters
The Principle Upanishads
The best known in English
Kena and Chandogya, attached to the Sama Vedas
Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandakya, attached to
the Atharva Veda
Brihad-Aranyaka, attached to the Rig-Veda
Taittiriya, attached to the Black Yajur-Veda
Isha, attached to the 40th chapter of the VajasaeyiSamhita
Doctrines of the Upanishads
1. The primary message is that through meditation
one can become aware that one’s soul (atman)
is one with all things
2. The soul is identified with the real, the
immortal, and the life-breath (prana), which is
veiled by name and form (individuality)
3. The principle of action (karma) is explained as
“one becomes good by good action, bad by bad
action” (Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad 3:2-13)
5. The soul is identified as being intelligent, dear,
true, endless, blissful and stable. In the
Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad (3:9-26) the soul is
said to be
. . .not this, not that
It is incomprehensible, for it is not
It is indestructible, for it is never destroyed.
It is unattached, for it does not attach itself.
It is unfettered; it does not suffer; it is not
6. By stressing the meaning behind the
ritual, the Upanishads would stress that
there would be various levels of
comprehension suited to different
individual intellectual capacities and by
identifying partially or by degrees two
similar or dissimilar elements which will on
further analysis or introspection reveal a
7. This latter aspect helps to suggest that the
dualism in the world is to some extent unreal
[1] The macrocosm is viewed
universally as the brahman
[2] The microcosmic nature of the
human soul is the atman
[3] Brahman is the only real and
unchanging reality
[4] Brahman cannot really be defined
[5] The atman exists in the midst of the
changes of the universe
[6] The atman exists in all things,
animate and inanimate
[7] Beings differ in the degree to which
Atman has come to be realized
8. There is an evolution of a gradual
uncovering or bringing to light of
realization of atman. The atman is
shown as being enclosed in a series of
[a] annamaya—the self, the
physical body
[b] pranamaya—the vital
principle, breath, which holds and
vitalizes together the body
and the mind. Life continues in
this sheath
[c] manomaya—manas,
impressions through the senses
[d] uynanamaya—intellect
[e] anandamaya—bliss, ego
9. Upanishads identifies 3 stages of
[1] The Waking State—awareness of
things external to the body
[2] The Dreaming State—awareness of
internal phenomena and enjoying
mental impressions, mind active though
independently of the sense organs, pure
mental beings
[3] The Deep Sleep State, entirely
unaware of external and internal world
[4] Pure Consciousness—a fourth stage
which transcends all states. Here the
atman is fully realized; it is the
supreme mystical experience
10. Liberation is achieved through 2 spiritual
[1] observation of moral of moral laws
[a] moral laws are accomplished
through self-discipline
[b] ultimate moral ideal of Upanishads
is complete self-abnegation
[2] practice of meditation accomplished by
hearing and reflection
11. The relationship of Atman and Brahman
can be found in the phrase Tat Tvam Asi —
thou art that—stressing a relationship and
complete identify between Brahman and
12. There are 108 Upanishads with 10 them
considered to be the most important
[1]The words must be seen as
spontaneous records of mystic
experiences of the rishis, not a
calculated logic or rational thinking
[2] The primary state to this mystic
experience is the negation or denial of
all external things
A. Dialogue with questions and
B. Narration and episodes
C. Similes, metaphors, and
D. Symbolism
Brahma Sutra indicates three main
guidelines to understand purpose
of Upanishads
A. Tattu samanvayaah.h—total
material available on the point of
study in the entire Shruti literature
has to be taken into account and
interpreted correctly by applying
canons of interpretation
B. Gati samaanyaah.h—All Shruti
literature have the same purport and
apparent contradictions are resolved
by proper study and interpretation
C. Sarvavedoantapratyayam.h—
underlying purport of Upanishads is
found to be one of consistent truth,
which when fully understood fully will
lead to God-realization
Chandogya Upanishad
1. It belongs to the Sama Veda and is the last
8 chapters of the 10-chapter Chandogya
2. Religious life is described as having 3 parts
a. Sacrifice, study of the Vedas, and giving
b. Austerity
c. Studying the sacred knowledge while living
in the house of a teacher
3. Reincarnation is clearly emphasized and
declares that those who conduct is pleasant
here will enter a pleasant womb of a Brahmin,
Kshatriya, or Vaisya; those of stinking conduct
will enter the stinking womb of a dog, swine, or
Taittiriya Upanishad
1. The word AUM is emphasized—prayers
often end with AUM
2. Peace of the soul is emphasized—
prayers often end with the chanting of
peace (shanti) three times
3. Highest goal is to know Brahman
Aitareya Upanishad
1. Begins with the one Spirit creating the
universe out of its being. Out of the cosmic egg
came speech, breath, eyes and sight, ears and
hearing, skin, hair, and herbs; from the navel and
outbreath came death and from the organ of
pleasure seed and waters were born
2. Ascending from this world with the intelligent
soul, one obtains all desires in a heavenly world,
eventually immortality
Katha Upanishad
Belongs to Taittiriiya Shaakhas of the
Krishna Yajur Veda
1. Utilizes an ancient story from the RV about a
father who gives his son Nachiketas to death
(Yama); it brings in some of the highest
teachings of mystical spirituality
2. The chariot is used as a symbol for a person
a. The soul is the lord of the chariot, which is
the body
b. Buddhi (intuition) is the chariot-driver
c. The mind is the reins
d. The senses are the horses
e. The paths are the objects of the senses
3. Three boons asked by Nachiketas
a. Let my father be freed from
anger towards me, let his calm by
restored and let him recognize me
when I return
b. Teach me the nature of the
Supreme God Hari, also bearing
the name of Agni, who can
bestow the immortal world to t
hose who worship Him by
performing the Nachiketas
c. Teach me the nature of the
Supreme God, who controls the
souls after and liberation
Thus, the whole of Vedic literature
consists of four Vedas or Samhitas,
several expository ritual texts
attached to each of these Vedas, and
speculative works, or Upanishads